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Getting Into The Us

Discussion in 'North America' started by Rachel, May 3, 2016.

  1. Rachel

    Rachel Member

    I haven't been to the USA for many years, the last time was a trip to New York in around 2003, as far as I recall. I have heard, recently, however, that actually getting through immigration/security/customs once you arrive in the US now is intolerable and can take hours. Is this the case? I am planning on visiting a couple of friends on the East Coast at the end of the year, but the last thing I need after a long haul flight is to be subjected to hours of queuing in an airport in order to get through security.
  2. Valerie

    Valerie Active Member

    It depends on the day and the airport, honestly. Which airport are your flying into? Some places have better organization than others, reducing the time it takes. Another factor is where you are coming from and what the reason of your stay is. But since you've already been to America (hopefully there's proof still in your passport, if it's the same one), the process will be quick. You'll be asked a couple of questions either by a TSA officer or a computer console then a TSA officer, get a stamp, and be on your merry way.
  3. Rachel

    Rachel Member

    Valerie, no, I don't have the same passport, in fact, I just got a brand new one a couple of months ago. I will be flying into either Washington or New York, so I'm hoping that since they are major hubs their organisation will be on point.

    Why are some days better than others? I'm intrigued to know about that, also, it might have an impact on the day I fly! I have no problem tweaking my itinerary to make my passage into the States quicker and easier.
  4. crimsonghost747

    crimsonghost747 Active Member

    The process itself is pretty fast... the huge queue might not be. I went to the states (Miami International) in January, stuff with the computer took maybe 5 minutes and the chat with the TSA officer was maybe 3-4 minutes long. So under 10 minutes to actually do stuff. And maybe a little over 2h of waiting to do that. I'd say the whole process to get from the plane to the luggage was about 2.5 hours total.
  5. Miya

    Miya Active Member

    Depending on the day, security is stricter. For example, in September around 9/11, they are more strict and you're more likely to be pull aside to get double checked.

    My aunt who is from Hong Kong came to visit me in America once and she had a ton of trouble with customs. They kept on checking her and asked her a lot of questions. She wasn't doing anything she wasn't supposed to do so in the end, she was fine, but it was a lot ot trouble and it took a long time. It really does depend on the airport, the day, and most importantly, your luck. If you are lucky, you'll get through customs will no problem. If not, it might be troublesome.
  6. Rachel

    Rachel Member

    So is it better to fly into a larger or a smaller airport - as in - somewhere that deals with fewer international visitors?
  7. Valerie

    Valerie Active Member

    Sorry for taking so long to reply to your questions!

    Miya already answered about the days; and she's correct. For example, the weekends tend to be busier for airports, so security is amped up. Holidays obviously a huge times for tighter security.
    As for choosing an airport. I would say the larger the better. From my experience, smaller airports overreact way more than they should. An international airport like Washington Dulles or Newark International Airport operate very smoothly for the amount of visitors they handle. That said, I recommend EWR (Newark, NJ very close to New York). Every time I fly in and out of that airport, everything is clockwork. The TSA officers are very amiable, and security is amazingly swift.
    Rachel likes this.
  8. Corzhens

    Corzhens Active Member

    I haven't been to the US yet. In 1988, my boyfriend (now my husband) went to the US on a work assignment. I applied for a visa in the US embassy here in Manila and unfortunately, I was denied. A lawyer advised me to apply again with some tips. But those tips didn't work an I was again denied. In 2007, my husband had an approved immigration status courtesy of his father who was an American citizen. However, we didn't deem it fit to migrate. What I wanted is to visit the US only.

    Now we still don't have solid plans of visiting the US because maybe I still have that trauma of being denied a US visa.
  9. For many visitors from other countries it is quite hard to get into US or as it is called 'getting cleared through immigrations & customs'.

    US has introduced VISA Waiver Program which makes it easier for more people, especially tourists, to visit US (for up to 90 days) without having VISA.
  10. crimsonghost747

    crimsonghost747 Active Member

    I would just recommend trying to fly directly to your destination airport. Simply because then it's ok if you have to sit 2h waiting in a line... it's just 2h. Whereas if you land somewhere and have to grab a conneting flight, then that 2h cue is not going to make you happy. :p
  11. sararas

    sararas Member

    If you just renewed your passport, perhaps bringing your old passport should help. I haven't been to the U.S. myself, but that's what people I know do in case they happen to have their passports renewed. They bring their old passport with them. In fact, during VISA application, they actually include a photocopy of their past US Visa together with the passport pages bearing their arrival and exit entries during that time.
    As to why some days are better than others? My best guess is like in any other airports in the world, there are time/day flights that people avoid just to avoid the rush of people. For example, those wanting to avoid influx of arrivals, opt to fly on a Tuesday to Thursday flights as opposed to flying on weekends. Others choose to take either the first day flight or the red-eye flights when most people don't want to wake up early to catch a flight.
  12. Ava

    Ava Member

    My own experience is to avoid JFK if you don't want to wait more than an hour to get through immigration. I have a UK passport and have a B1 visa (6 months each visit) and I still have to queue up. Once I had to wait 2 hours before I was cleared because the airport was so busy and everyone just had to wait. Everyone ran to join the queues, but I needed the restroom, so that added more time to my wait, queuing for the restroom, and then losing space in the queues for immigration!

    In the end on another journey I chose to transit via Philadelphia where there was no queue and I got on a domestic flight to New York that was less than an hour. It was an option for me as the flight was the same price, and I'd rather spend time waiting in transit than queuing. It does depend on whether you travel alone, as I was. The problem is you can't go to the restroom and save your place, but if you are traveling with several people that may not be such an issue.
  13. Miya

    Miya Active Member

    They are both good in their own ways. Larger airport = less chance of getting checked because there are more visitors (they are picking from a bigger pool of people), but more people use the airport so you'll have to wait longer. Smaller airport = less people, shorter lines. But of course, in the end, it depends on your luck. Maybe you aren't doing anything out of line, but they'll still check you. Just make sure you declare everything and don't carry anything you're not supposed to have and you'll be fine.
  14. Novelangel

    Novelangel Member

    Back in 2009, I flew to the Philippines and spent three weeks there. When it was time to go home, I had to go through customs 6 different times while attempting to LEAVE the Philippines. Apparently they like their tourists so much they intend to keep them as long as possible. When I arrived back in the states, however, I sailed through customs like a schooner catching the breeze. It was so easy compared to actually leaving the Philippines, that I was amazed. Of course, that was a few years back, and before the arrival of full body scanners and pat-downs, so things could be a bit different now.